What to Look for When Buying Second Hand Cars

by Nate Balcom

Used Car Buying Check List

Regardless of what you're budget is when purchasing a second had car there is a punch list of criteria you should take with you to the used car lot to help you make a better informed decision. The list below is available in pdf form so you can either bring this with you on your smart phone or be printed out for quick reference when you're away from your computer.

Buying a Used Car On a Smaller Budget

What does it sound like?
When you have a limited or smaller budget it's time to get down to brass tacks. With a smaller budget you have to keep in mind that you likely wont find the exact car you're looking for so make sure first thing that the vehicle is road worthy and something you can rely on to get you from point a to point b.

What does it look like?
Do you notice a lot of body damage or rust? Is it dented?

What does it smell like?
Does the vehicle have a funny odor to it? Do you notice a chemical, rubber or otherwise burning smell? Often times older used cars with higher miles have issues under the hood. A funny smell may very well indicate that this car has some serious issues. Does it smell like burnt oil? It's possible that the vehicle has a problem holding oil. It's also possible that the current owner has had a recent oil change. So don't be shy. Ask questions and have a few chambered before you show up.

Buying a Used Car On a Larger Budget

If your budget is on the higher side you should still take into consideration the tips above, you're just less likely to have the same issues with a more expensive vehicle. That being said here are a few things to consider when buying a car on a larger budget.

  • What are your monthly payments going to be?
  • What is insurance going to cost you?
  • How much can I lower my monthly payment to if I have a larger down payment?
  • Are there any incentive plans you are eligible for?
  • Are there any manufacturer's warranties that will still apply?

Use your best judgment and ask a lot of questions. One final tip, if possible show up to the car lot in the morning. If the vehicle is sluggish or has troubles starting chances are it will be more obvious on a cold start in the a.m.

Download the used car buying checklist here  Download the used car buying checklist here